Four Seasons Hualalai: As Expected.

Four Seasons Hualalai: Predictable: to be expected; unsurprising; formulaic…Would you consider this description a negative if I used it to describe a hotel or a guide or…

My recent visit to the Four Seasons Hualalai on the big Island was predictable. Our clients are all-encompassing enthusiasts of the brand, with good reason. Although, I have stayed multiple times at many Four Seasons, if I haven’t stayed at a particular resort, and a client wants to stay, we can confidently reserve knowing it will be predictable, ie very reliable. Excellent service, impressive dining, and superb service, over the top luxury, perfection.

Four Seasons Hualalai

Several decades ago, Four Seasons introduced a mission statement based on The Golden Rule: To treat others as we’d wish to be treated ourselves. This has never failed to impress me, and I see it practiced at all the Four Seasons Resorts I visit.

Hotels must practice and strive for brand perfection, something the Four Seasons takes very seriously. I hadn’t been to Hualalai in years and was greeted as if I had visited last week. Not everyone at these hotels knows me, it’s always a lovely surprise to be so warmly welcomed.

On landing, I had forgotten about the small outdoor luggage carousels, so unique that they still exist! A Four Seasons rep met me as I exited the plane, and we strolled a short distance to the casual outdoor baggage area. Bags collected and off to the resort –  mere minutes away through a black lava field. So close, yet you never hear any planes overhead.

The Four Seasons Hualalai is located on the Kona-Kohala coast of Hawaii Island. It’s a roughly 15-minute drive from Kona International Airport (KOA). It’s about a 20-minute drive to the town of Kona, But, why leave?  Entering the resort, the landscape quickly transforms to a lush tropical oasis of palms and red blossom hibiscus. Truly a tropical paradise, black lava shows itself in some locations, however this is truly a tropical retreat.

Surrounded by white-sand beaches and black-lava landscapes, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is perfectly situated for all kinds of island adventures. The spirit of Hawaii, from its long-held traditions to its inspired art, informs every detail of this idyllic retreat.

The islands lack no shortage of five-star properties, many are tucked into ultra-touristed rows like a Las Vegas row of swanky hotels. Many things set this property apart from other hotels, the setting and location. The Four Seasons Hualalai has an incredible amount of coastline, and there’s a pathway along the entire beach. A quiet expansive ribbon of land.

Stop a moment, a lavish lei of orchids slipped over your head, a chilled hibiscus scented towel in hand, balanced with a frosty drink. Leave your busy world at the doorstep, the view of paradise is straight ahead: past the lawns, past the pools, the sparkling Pacific Ocean beckons. Room ready, yes – beautiful amenities in room – yes. Room explanation, perfect- I recently covered a room lamp with an ice bucket as I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off – plug was obscured by a massive desk…and no, it was not a Four Seasons!

Four Seasons Hualalai

The open-air reception area and most of the other public spaces are all traditional Polynesian spacious architecture, consisting of buildings no higher than two stories, maximizing indoor/outdoor living. Aside from the rooms, and since I never close my screens, I was rarely in a closed room, except for a spa treatment.

The property seems expansive and for one who gets lost at many resorts, it was compact and easy to navigate. This is an ideal family destination, as there’s something here for everyone, whether you want to swim, golf, tennis, hike – a long list of activities. Kids Club for the kiddos as well.

I stayed in an ocean view superior suite, which had a comfy living room, with a large couch that could be turned into a bed, to tuck in a kiddo if one tags along. Two bathrooms and a double lanai terrace overlooking a beautiful ancient pool, beneath soaring palms, and gigantic ferns – the water attracted dozens of dancing iridescent dragon flies. The resort is built on the site of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village and in the initial development, a historic Hawaiian trail and several anchialine pools were found. The hotel has gone to great lengths to preserve the pools. With an array of feathered birds pecking for brekkie crumbs and the wildlife below, I could have sat for hours.

If you’re game for the best the Four Seasons Hualalai has to offer and price isn’t a factor, the property has several private villas. The Ho`onanea Villa, can be configured as a two- or three-bedroom villa, is the perfect friend or family Villa. Spacious rooms, an enormous kitchen-living room space with floor-to-ceiling glass doors which open onto an expansive lanai with an outdoor table, fire pit, and plunge pool. There’s also an external staircase leading to a sundeck/outdoor living room perfect for whale watching or sipping sunset cocktails at the end of an afternoon. Although the villa is mere steps from the beach and is really in the heart of the resort, it feels very private. All the villas are quite special, one is located with views of the golf course and overlooking another Sacred Pond, a short trail leads to the edge of the pond, where two chairs sit side by side. Perfect for contemplation.

The adult pool has lodging surrounding it, pretty much dedicated adult rooms- the hotel is very observant at managing the guest ratio near the adult pool, something I truly love.

Pools- who has so many pool choices?!  A morning stroll along the beach path led me to count and photograph all the pools: The King’s Pond and King’s Pool. The Seashell Pool. The Palm Grove Pool. The Beach Tree Pool. The Lap Pool. And the final most expansive pool: The Ocean Pool!

One of my favorites was the King’s Pond, which is a 1.8 million gallon “aquarium” for swimming. I brought my underwater camera to catch the ancient manta ray in the pond. The pool is carved out of lava rock and has more than 1,000 tropical fish in it. The sandy bottom and multiple stairs for entering the pool, make it accessible to all. The Kumu Kai Marine Education Center is here, where you can learn more about the marine life, as well as join daily ray and fish feedings. Kiddos can hold sea horses in a small on land tank. I did photograph the ray, who apparently survived under piles of debris in the last big hurricane. King’s Pond is also surrounded by lounges and chairs for a quiet pool aquarium setting.

Villa Views – Contemplation

Activities – wow- something for everyone! A world class tennis club with 8 courts, a world-class 18-hole golf course, a four-lane lap pool, and I discovered a beachfront aquatic center where you can learn how to paddle a traditional canoe, try out a stand-up paddle board, or join a snorkeling adventure. The resort provides a cart over to this stretch of beach, but I walked to it along the long resort path. There are also night swims with Manta Rays in the ocean, I was a little afraid, my horoscope predicted: Do something different today, I did inquire – the trips were full- pagan girl prayers do work!

Golf – Crafted with sensitivity to its unique environment, this 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-signature, championship course winds over 7,100 yards, beginning in a lush oasis, flowing across bright green fairways contoured against black lava, then returning to the ocean for the final hole. Exclusive Golf Experiences

The Spa is over the top fabulous, the Zen inspired tropical treatment rooms are indoor and outdoors. Gift shops are always supported by me- so easy to add to m y tropical wardrobe and a treasure trove of distinctive attire to be found! Clothing that can be worn at home as well as the resorts…

Dining – There are several on-site restaurants, including the casual open-air Beach Tree, set on the edge of the beach, white surf laps the beach…kids were playing in tide pools while parents dined.

The beachfront Ulu Ocean Grill with an adjacent sushi lounge, and the Hualalai Grille. Enjoy local seafood with flavors inspired by the Pacific rim, served steps away from the ocean surf and beneath a canopy of stars at our award-winning. Enjoy local seafood with flavors inspired by the Pacific rim, served steps away from the ocean surf and beneath a canopy of stars at the award-winning restaurant. The culinary philosophy is to begin with ingredients from the island and beyond – ensuring the freshest, most sustainable ingredients available. Working with over 160 local farms, approximately 75% of the food served is from the Island of Hawai’i, prepared oven roasted, flame grilled and wok fired – fusing the flavors of Hawaii with Pan-Asian techniques.

Off property unique experiences Blacksmith experience. Journey to a secluded coffee farm on the hills of Hualalai where the famed, Hawaii Island-born blacksmith Neil Kamimura forges his state-of-the-art specialty knives. After an initial consultation, assist Neil in creating a unique, personalized knife: forging, pounding and adding a custom handle to complete the one-of-a-kind chef’s knife to use in your kitchen, or to treasure as a piece of art. A chef by trade, Flora Kamimura, Neil’s wife, will create a custom lunch to enjoy between the efforts of constructing your creation. After your time spent with the knife master, return to the Resort, and receive a knife-skills cooking class with a tenured Resort chef, using your new creation for the first time.

Natural Pools View from my Suite

If Predictable Perfect Luxury is your Jam, then please ring me, as I Highly Recommend Four Seasons Hualalai!

Naviva – Edge of the World, Four Seasons Punta Mita

A few days in the humid heat of Punta Mita to explore all that is new in the Americas! Sneak peek of the amazing Tent resort affiliated with the iconic Four Seasons Punta Mita. This five-star property has always been our client Number One go to for years and now there is another reason to visit!

Naviva Tent Camp is mere minutes from the hotel, but it feels miles away from civilization! A nature retreat featuring 15 luxury tents nestled amid 48 forested acres on a private peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the unrivaled adult only Naviva experience creates an environment that allows guests to mingle or isolate and absorb the sights and sounds of nature, undisturbed in a jungle oasis.

Naviva Four Seasons Punta Mita

“Naviva is an ambitious new resort concept that offers highly individualized service and innovative design bringing guests closer to nature than ever before,” says Vince Parrotta, Four Seasons President, Hotel Operations – Americas West. “With the debut of this exceptionally personalized retreat, guests will interface one-on-one with knowledgeable guides during thoughtful experiences that embrace the culture and character of Mexico.” Hiking, fishing, stargazing, yoga, meditation or just plain sitting quietly with a book and catching your breath and balance. Disconnect or if you must, the Four Seasons resort is a golf buggy away, Naviva is only for their registered guests, hotel guests don’t have access, this is a private commune with nature!

With only 15 luxury tents designed by Luxury Frontiers – all with private plunge pools – Naviva is one of the smallest Four Seasons resorts in the world. The Resort’s transformative approach and certified Naviva guides come together to create a high-touch, yet unassuming adult-only experience, the name translates to “love of life or living things.”

Naviva, Four Seasons Punta Mita

The natural setting is wild jungle, interspersed with massive boulders, cascading waterfalls and of course, the sparkling Pacific a stone’s throw away. One does feel like you are sitting on the edge of the world, the horizon extends forever…a fishing boat may bob on the waves or in winter your view, will include whales passing by!

Naviva celebrates the bond we have with nature through the combination of natural materials utilized in the overall design – an architectural approach which suggests and connects people to natural surroundings. On arrival, guests are immediately immersed in the outdoors, meeting their guide on a cocoon-inspired bamboo bridge overlooking a deep forest ravine. The bamboo bridge has small platforms jutting over a mini canyon waterfall, the end of the roof line suggests a curved Frank Geary copper rooftop. It’s petite, but quite majestic.

Nature is the host here,  each stand-alone luxury tent features spacious indoor and outdoor areas that seamlessly blend together, allowing guests to take in the sun and smell the ocean breeze along with indirect connections to nature with textures and fabrics that mimic natural patterns found in the surrounding environment.

Naviva, Four Seasons Punta Mita

Luxury Frontiers designed the spaces of each tent with an open-air living room and separate bedroom flowing to a private plunge pool and expansive deck with a hammock and outdoor shower. Luxurious in feel, yet not fussy.

Authentic Local Experiences with a Sense of Place are offered to guests. Daily life at Naviva is tailored to the desire of each guest with certified Naviva guides. Unscripted Naviva experiences such as sampling small-batch Mexican coffees, stargazing, and joining in sunset rituals, are among spontaneous activities for guests to pursue at the exclusive Resort.

Guests can also enjoy Signature Naviva experiences that bring the character, heritage and expertise of local talent and tradition to the forefront, such as visiting award-winning local artist Jose Juan Esparza at his private home and studio, nocturnal forest bathing, sound therapy and breathwork.

Journeys for the Mind, Body and Soul. Deviating from traditional hotel wellness offerings, Naviva offers a series of intimate spaces including two spa pods tucked away in the lush forest, a traditional Mexican temazcal or “house of heat,” an outdoor gym, a serene jungle oasis at the Alma Pool and a private 575-foot expanse of pristine Pacific beachfront – a calming place to practice yoga or mindfulness.

Each area promotes human connection to nature by immersing guests in tangible and intangible aspects of the environment, such as a half-day retreat in one of the cocoon-like spa pods that were inspired by the seed of the local Ceiba tree and provide cocooned refuge, allowing for shifts in internal energy. All holistic rituals at Naviva harness the healing properties of indigenous ingredients, from regenerative reishi and hydrating snow mushrooms to natural gemstones and colored clays found throughout Mexico.

Naviva also gives guests the opportunity to focus fully on their physical wellbeing. Workouts at Naviva include cliffside yoga sessions at Risco Terrace, scenic hiking and running trails, and strength training in the outdoor open-air gym overlooking the Pacific, where guests can incorporate existing formations such as boulders and trees, connecting to nature with every stretch and every breath.

Memorable Meals and Moments Overlooking Coastal Seascapes. Rustic luxury is brought to life overlooking the coastal seascapes of the Pacific at Copal, the heart of Naviva. More than simply a restaurant, the shared space is designed to evoke the feeling of being in a living room and kitchen of a private home, inviting guests to gather for games, reading, conversation, ideas, and music. Handmade games such as backgammon and a foosball table fashioned from reclaimed wood by Mexican artisans are available for playful competition.

At Copal Cocina, guests can feel the live cooking energy of the open-air kitchen, which is at the center of the space and features all natural open-fire cooking methods with traditional BBQ pits, wood-fire grill rotisseries and wood-fire ovens. Bountiful sea catches and seasonal produce are the inspiration and foundation of fresh daily offerings.

Faraway Feeling, Yet Close to Home. On Mexico’s Pacific coast, within the Riviera Nayarit, Naviva is located at the northern tip of Bahía de Banderas on the same peninsula as Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. Just 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta International Airport, this self-contained paradise is nestled within a 48-acre cliffside forest.

Luxury tents include all meals and snacks at any time of the day throughout the Resort, 24-hour in-tent dining, pool and beach service, all beverages including premium wine and spirits, one 60-minute spa treatment per guest, community activities, mind and body classes, Unscripted Naviva experiences, guide planning and in-tent amenities. Signature Naviva experiences, rare or specialty-ordered beverages, additional spa treatments, private classes or training, and airport transfers are available for an additional cost.

Naviva, Four Seasons Punta Mita

Naviva guests also receive full access to the adjacent Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, located just five minutes away. The Resort features ten restaurants and bars, two golf courses, three pools, two beaches and additional spa and fitness facilities. 

I’ve visited and I have a favorite Tent, near a massive Ceiba Tree, the deck hangs on the edge of the Pacific and the soaking tub has unobstructed views of the sparking sea and the winter whales.  Rustic Luxury abounds. Opening December 1, Festive stays are available. Begin the New Year composed, calm and centered.

Thank you Four Seasons for the fun day escape to Naviva and for the images!

Highly Recommend!